We’re all being advised to limit social contact and decrease our time in public places in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. For some people, this advice is impossible to follow because they are the people who care, protect and support society on a daily basis. So, how can we help the helpers?
With current advice around COVID-19 focusing heavily upon limiting non-essential contact and isolation where needed, it would be very easy to bed down at home and focus on our own immediate needs and worries. However, there’s a huge team of people whose work has become busier and more crucial than ever - and they need our help and support.
We can all do our part to ‘help the helpers’ wherever you are; whether that’s considering how you use the NHS, sending soap supplies into school with your children (if they're still heading in), or checking in with your local food bank. We all have a part to play in supporting the people that are working so hard to support us.
With the announcement that 300,000 beds are being made available in the UK for treating people who contract coronavirus, the coming weeks are set to be the busiest time for the NHS in our living history.
The pressure of working in healthcare in these times is immense, and people with long-term illnesses and chronic conditions still require medical support and supplies. We all need to do our utmost to decrease the burden on these services, wherever we live - and respect the impact it has on the lives of medical practitioners and support staff.
Rachel Patzer, a US based Director at the Center for Health Services Research tweeted: “My spouse is a physician in the emergency dept, and is actively treating coronavirus patients. We just made the difficult decision for him to isolate and move to our garage for the foreseeable future as he continues to treat patients.
“We have a three-week-old newborn and two young kids and just can’t risk it. It pains me to wonder how many weeks will go by and he won’t get to hold our new baby or see our older kids. This is one example of the sacrifice that healthcare workers are making in our communities.
Rachel continues, “It is difficult to see pictures of all the people at bars and restaurants, socialising, making play dates and ignoring social distancing recommendations when I know my husband and many other healthcare workers are risking their lives to treat more sick patients.
“Please take this pandemic seriously. I hope the projections of infections and serious cases are incorrect. If not, our healthcare system will become overloaded. And already we are seeing the strain. Please thank a healthcare worker for what they are doing and sacrificing.”
How you can help
We can all play our role in supporting healthcare workers every day, by acting on the most recent advice. The more we all play a role to slow the spread of coronavirus, the less sudden and unmanageable pressures we put on finite resources and our fellow humans.
Around the world, people are doing their best to show gratitude to healthcare staff. In the US, Headspace is offering all professionals who work in public health settings free access to Headspace Plus in 2020, and in some countries, people are breaking into spontaneous applause in the streets to thank those caring for them.
If you know someone working in healthcare, text them today, tell them they’re doing a great job and that you appreciate them.
Incredible amount of work & planning going on to prepare as best as possible in all public and private sectors for #COVID19. Colleagues across the system already giving 100%+. We all need to get behind our #NHS and local gov staff (including schools) #thankyouNHS #HelpTheHelpers— Dan Jenkins (@jenkinsdanj) March 17, 2020
Mental Health Practitioners
As searches around health anxiety rise, as uncertainty around illness and contamination impact people with disorders including OCD, more people are calling upon mental health support and the services of counsellors and therapists.
Pam Custers explains the impact COVID-19 has had to date, on her practice: “Coronavirus has impacted all of our clients. Every single one has raised the issue as a concern or in passing. Many clients have spoken about how it may change their families, livelihoods or their health.
“The truth is that coronavirus doesn’t just impact us physically as a virus - it has a huge psychological impact. And, as a group of counsellors and therapists, we have to be the keel holding the ship steady in the storm.”
The responsibility of holding space for others, is a sentiment reflected by Sarah Rolfe, a self-employed counsellor who shares that she is treading the line of staying healthy herself, while continuing much-needed work with clients.
I am in awe of our NHS and am so grateful for them for all they do! I am a self employed counsellor and am walking the line of staying healthy (emotionally and physically)/noticing when I need to go into lockdown/not wanting to let down clients who are already feeling anxious— sarah rolfe (@sarahrolfe16) March 17, 2020
How you can help
It’s important not to withdraw from any mental health support you are having or might need at this time. If you’re already working with a mental health practitioner or service, speak with them and plan how you can keep in contact in the coming months.
If you’re looking for private counselling support, consider online therapy. There are over 10,000 counsellors who offer online services on Counselling Directory, and by finding someone who is local to you, you can move from online to face-to-face, should you want to when social distancing measures have eased. Using a local therapist also means that you are contributing to the local economy and small business owners, which is more important now than ever.
If online is not your thing, there will be therapists who will continue to offer in-person sessions with safety and hygiene measures put in place to keep everyone safe. Start a conversation and come up with an approach that’s right for you.
If you’re not in a financial position to engage a private counsellor, then there are many other options and charities who offer advice and support. Please know that you are not alone and support is available.
Most schools will close at the end of the week, although some students will still attend in order to support key workers and provide resources for vulnerable children.
Teachers have been working while the news around coronavirus has evolved, and in high contact environments with many others. Many have previously questioned this.
As a teacher, I’m finding this bizarre. Friends who work in an office of ten are working from home. I come into contact with 200-300 children, parents and colleagues every day and am going in.— Chris Pickles (@ChrisPickles7) March 16, 2020
As well as teaching the curriculum, school teachers have been working hard to maintain the hygienic practises needed, managing student anxieties, as well as ensuring they are remaning happy and healthy themselves.
I'm a teacher and if you have children/ your children are still going to school, if you're able to sending some soap/hand gel in would be amazing 😬— Highland Book Fairy (@BookHighland) March 17, 2020
How you can help
This will differ from school to school, and there will be advice from Headteachers, so keep tuned into this. Emailing to ask if there are specific needs, like soap, you can support with is a great and kind thing to do, as well as remembering to thank teaching staff and be aware that they too will have concerns about the virus and the implications for them.
Most importantly, follow guidance around self isolation if anyone in your family shows symptoms and do not send your little one to school if they have been exposed.
The current pandemic is not only impacting our health, but it is also having a financial impact. It is specifically affecting people who freelance, self-employed, are on zero-hour contracts or are running small businesses.
From #Budget2020 we welcome extra financial support, particularly a £500m hardship fund for local councils which can play a key role in anchoring us all from #poverty. But as #Coronavirus unfolds, more needs to be done to protect ppl on low incomes > https://t.co/rWGOyYpVAc pic.twitter.com/TsmE4xXZiB— The Trussell Trust (@TrussellTrust) March 11, 2020
Charities like The Trussell Trust run food banks and help if people need food or emergency supplies when finances become an issue - providing supplies for a minimum of three days.
However, they can only do this if donations continue, and while food is available - meaning that we all have to think seriously about not stockpiling, buying only what we need and if we have the resource to, buying extra for a food bank.
How you can help
These are just a few of the many professions that are keeping the country going at this moment in time. You will know local groups and services that are essential to your community and who deserve all the help we can give too. So share the love, think of how you can #HelptheHelpers safely, and show them we appreciate all that they are doing.
Don't want to see politicians, financiers, popstars hogging honours lists again: just NHS workers, supermarket/council workers, carers, scientists, hospice volunteers and everyone else keeping Britain going at the moment. Frankly, honours should have always been for unsung heroes— Sathnam Sanghera (@Sathnam) March 18, 2020